Climate Change Connections: The past is the prologue

We learn from the past so we can build for the future.


We are an Island that threatened to secede from Massachusetts over reduced representation in the legislature. We even created our own flag! It is clear that we are a feisty lot. The beauty of this insular strength that we possess is it serves us well as we face the growing impacts of climate change and create our own prologue — a new beginning. For example, as cited in “The Vineyard Way,” the Vineyard’s climate action plan, “Does it make sense to invest big money to protect coastal roads and infrastructure when we know in the coming decades they will be increasingly impacted by storms and sea level rise?”

Not only are we a hearty bunch, we have also been underpinned by the deep ecological knowledge of the Wampanoag. The good fortune of this template they have given us on matters of our land has come into focus as we set about to meet the challenges of climate change. We have indeed learned — and have much more to learn — from our tribal brothers and sisters.

It is imperative that we learn from our past, all of it, and pool our knowledge so that together we can move forward quickly and successfully to meet our goals in this race against time.

We have made some notable accomplishments so far:

  • “The Vineyard Way, Connected to Our Past, Committed to Our Future: A Climate Action Plan for the Whole Island”
  • The Trustees of Reservations “State of Our Coast” report
  • VTA electric buses and baby electric buses
  • Student-led Climate Cafés — MVRHS and Charter School Protect Your Environment Club
  • Memorial Wharf and Yacht Club raised in Edgartown
  • Study to raise Dutcher Dock in Menemsha
  • New bike paths
  • Storm-tide pathways mapping for stormwater management planning (mapping of Island to indicate potential flooding levels during storm surges — especially useful to first responders and builders.)
  • Library and town climate committee outreach programs
  • Town climate committee interviews with department leaders of town government about climate change measures
  • The successful Climate Action Fair

From reading this list, it is obvious that we on our Island have made the choice to take on the responsibility of positive climate change action.

In other columns, we will focus on what individuals can do locally, readily, and easily to get started down their path of making a difference. Here are some ideas to get you started in that direction:

  1. Take a walk in nature with family or friends. You will notice nature, connect with it, appreciate it more, and this can translate to taking action about climate change. Walking and experiencing nature is also a stress buster and a mood booster, and outdoor activities are good for your health. They boost your vitamin D, and one study noted that daily walks outside for 15 minutes can add three years to your life. Green exercise is great!
  2. The next time you need to go somewhere, ask yourself if it is close enough to walk or ride your bike.
  3. Walk to work if possible.

If you have questions, or need more information, email Doris Ward at